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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

4          HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

The white-skinned, fair-haired men from the north had dis-
appeared, absorbed in the brown-complexioned, dark-haired
Mediterranean race which had peopled the -Sgean lands when
the Minoan Empire was flourishing. Social customs and in-
stitutions had undergone a transformation almost as thorough.
At first sight it might seem as though the conquerors had been
conquered by the land of which they had taken possession,
But in actual fact something much finer had happened. A new
people had been born, different in many respects from its parent
and kindred peoples, and endowed with richer capacities than
any of them. To this people their Aryan ancestry had given a
language admirably fitted for the expression of science and
philosophy, and a political genius that manifested itself, on the
one hand, in an organization of the individual States into which
the land was now divided, that combined aristocratic government
with a great measure of freedom; and, on the other hand, in
the pan-Hellenic sentiment that rose above tribal differences,
and brought the separate States together in common religious
observances and in the great Games. From the southern strain
came the potentialities of culture, in a religion of humanized
divinities and in noble traditions of art which had grown to
maturity in the old civilization of Crete. Even the aboriginal
inhabitants represented by the serfs attached to the land contri-
buted their share in the cult of Demeter, Persephone, Dionysus,
and the other chthonic deities, from whose worship sprang tragedy,
comedy, and the mysteries.

The spirit of the people- is perhaps seen in most characteristic
form in their religion. Apollo, Poseidon, Area, Hermes, Athena,
Aphrodite, Artemis and their other gods and godesses, as the
etymological evidence seems to suggest, arc of Eastern origin,
but in coming to Greece they underwent a sea-change. It is not
merely that like the Cretan mother-goddess they were more
human than the deities of the East, but that they were at once
representative of the great natural forces that affect man's life
and of all the main human relationships. With such deities as
these, it was possible for the Greeks to develop a free secular
life. In the East, mankind is over-shadowed by the immensity
of natural phenomena. There* the gods are beings so immeasur-
ably remote from man that their worshippers can only approach
them in slavish awe, and the priests generally exercise a despotic